Category: Life

What’s a writing blog without a boring account of the blogger’s life and thoughts about marriage, children, and cats?

The Novel I wrote when I was Ten — “The Cathedral of Cats”

This is Part III of the book I wrote in middle school. If you want to start from the beginning, go here.

In 1999, when I was ten, I wrote a book. It was the worst thing ever written, and I’ve read the collected works of Stuart Warren. Twenty years later, I recovered the manuscript and am now publishing excerpts for the public’s amusement. There’s a delight in watching bad movies. I hope y’all will equally enjoy bad literature.


Chapter Four

To recap. Our hero is lost in the woods, badly wounded from an encounter with a gang of knights. That’s really all you need to know. Seriously.

Javis Kyle is discovered by an ogre named Lars. Apparently my ogres are smart, compassionate creatures.

And this is what ten-year-old-me thinks smart people sound like:

By the way, Lars is dressed like a gentleman scholar. I hired an artist to recreate this.

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The Novel I wrote when I was Ten — “A Wizard with a Beard for a Robe”


This is Part II of my summary of the book I wrote in middle school. If you want to start with Chapter One, go here.

In Several Short Sentences About Writing, Klinkenborg says every good writer starts with a good sentence. They write a good sentence, then write another. But there isn’t a single, decent string-of-words in The Hero on Foot: The War of the Bowl. Even the title chonks like a basketball-sized cat.

But that’s why we’re here. Not to read literature, but to laugh at ugly prose. The following is the first book I ever wrote.

Enjoy?


Chapter Two

First, a recap. Our hero’s family is dead, his village destroyed. Okay, recap over.

We find our protagonist living in the woods Into the Wild style.

Is it?

Is it cool?

I imagine my fifth grade teacher writing “cool” like John Oliver says “dope.”

(John Oliver also has an unimpressed “cool” but the gifs were too grainy.)

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The Novel I wrote when I was Ten — “New Beginnings”

The following is the first ten pages of the book I wrote in middle school. This is a roast, not literary lesson. Come chuckle with me at an author who tossed into his novel everything he thought was cool without regard to plot or complexity or voice or how to tell a good story.

Might be fun.


Prologue

The book begins with a prologue in italics because of course it’s italics. The prologue is less scene, more opening scrawl of Star Wars. It’s pure, unadulterated exposition. Horrible, unnecessary exposition.

We’re introduced to the ancestors of our protagonist for some reason. These early knights migrated to a mountain and created a town. It’s not complicated. They were accompanied by a Talking Cat.

The Cat is murdered and never mentioned again.

That is nearly all I say about the Silver Bowl. While the artifact resurfaces later, its function, its purpose, its abilities are never explained.

Obviously the idea of a tempting, powerful metal object was stolen from Lord of the Rings. Ten-year-old-me must have ransacked his brain meat trying to think of an alternative to The One Ring and settled on a bowl. Maybe he was eating cereal.

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The Novel I wrote when I was Ten

This is my latest installment of project failures.

Think of it as Literary Confession, except these deeds were not done, remain unfinished, or never started.

Read on. Who knows? Maybe you can steal from the ashes.


I’ve finally reached the age where my sexy friends get married and less sexy friends write books. My pal Stuart Warren has written two, and if you’re not careful, he might write another.

Currently, I’m working on YAF about a squirrel who is magically turned into a human. But Roco wasn’t my first novel.

No, I wrote my first novel a long, long time ago. In 1999, when I was ten.

It was called

and was forty pages of the most garbage writing ever conceived in consecutive order.

(And, hey, I’ve read Stuart’s books.)

A few months ago, I recovered the manuscript from my parent’s house. The unpublished genius was wedged between short stories I wrote in middle school—”Vulcan” about a giant volcano exploding; “Fallen Chick” about a baby bird falling to its death; “Remrok” about an art contest between cavemen. Each of these stories was a crowning achievement in my literary life. Now? I feel bad for the trees they’re written on.

The book is a very poor amalgamation of Arthurian legend, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, 90s pop culture, a ten year-old’s love of cats, and puns.

It includes:

  • A bowl-shaped knockoff of the One Ring To Rule Them All
  • An insolent rendition of Taran, the pig-keeper hero from the Black Cauldron
  • A cliché hero’s journey that begins with a village ransacked by barbarians
  • Gratuitous violence that reads like John Wick fanfiction

All laid out in forty pages of godawful prose:

And poetry: The worst thing? It was a school assignment. Someone was forced to read this sword-and-sorcery swill.

In fact, my fifth grade teacher’s remarks are scattered everywhere:

They don’t pay teachers enough.

I will be posting the plot of The Hero on Foot: The War of the Bowl (my wife calls it of the Bowels) throughout July alongside my best impression of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Feel free to read along and laugh at mediocrity.

If anything, this will be a lesson in failure.

Published — “Garden of Forking Palms”

My absurdist flash fiction Garden of Forking Palms was included in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Mojave River Review. My title plays with Jorge Luis Borges’s “The Garden of Forking Paths,” but roads diverge from there. The story is about a man who wakes up to find a garden on his hand. And then he has to go to work.

I wanted to explore our universal experience of not-quite-fitting-in, of having something weird or silly to preoccupy our social discomfort. My argument is that weirdness, silliness, those things that fluster, they might actually be our most beautiful or interesting attributes. Dave doesn’t make the right decision in the end, but he might someday with time and maturity and that steady growth of self-knowledge.

Mojave River Media is a busy publishing center with books, anthologies, and review magazines. This includes Mojave River Review, a prose and poetry anthology produced biseasonally.

Nonfiction — “Blood Sucking Worms”

My father had many stories about monsters and his favorite were the Blood Sucking Worms. The story went like this: Three children (three of us) would be lost in the woods (why we were in the woods was never explained – we lived in the city) and fall asleep beside an old oak. In the morning, one of our number would be missing, usually Zach, the youngest.

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Failed — Mudball (The Animated Series)

Phil Kiner and I took one last crack at the concepts we created in GLADiators and Mudball. This time, I had a completely new setting and conflict for our ball-kicking, mud-rolling, tomboy protagonist:

Lord of the Flies… in space!

Essentially, the premise was this:

A cargo ship carrying children (refugees from a planetary invasion) crashes on an unknown desert planet. The ship’s automated servants (called meks) activate Emergency Protocols, which includes creating machine-emitting air-bubbles on the surface, but otherwise the ship does very little in terms of leadership or guidance. It’s up to the rally of children to stay alive, create a functional society, and plan for rescue.

Maebee (now Mae Bee) effectively stayed the same:

But she was joined by new allies.

Zettle would be an excitable girl with a ferocious curiosity for new things. She’d constantly hurtle herself into danger (or over cliffs), pursuing impulses and inquiries with physical abandon.

We wanted her to represent the poor working-class, so she wore colorful, discarded clothing with no particular order or schema. She had style—it was just not like anyone else’s.

Zettle was also blind—her family unable to afford, in this age of hyper-tech and planetary exploration, to buy her mechanical replacements. Naturally, this made her cliff-hurtling curiosity more dramatic (or hilarious) depending on the circumstance.

This is my depiction of her:

Maeb’s other companion would be a blond, sensitive, super-genius named Nord, who would function as the anxious, cautious, “I don’t know about this you guys” comic relief.

(You could apply psychoanalyze this. Zettle as the id, Nord as the superego, and Maebs as the pragmatic “can-do” ego in-between.)

I wrote a script and Phil put together an animated storyboard for Nickelodeon, hoping they might pick up the series.

Nickelodeon said no, and we put Mudball away, moving on to other projects. But I have already begun to transform this concept into a far more serious novel, returning to the savage intensity that Golding intended. As this draft comes along, I will put out updates about concepts and characters.

For now, I hope you enjoyed my trilogy of posts about a failed webcomic and cartoon. Feel free to contact me with your failures, and we’ll revel in our misfires together.